According to SMMT figures, UK car production was down 0.3% in the first month of 2023, with just 215 fewer units made. This was driven was driven chiefly by structural changes

Car manufacturing graphic Jan 2023

UK car production was stable in January 2023, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has reported, with output down just 0.3% to 68,575 units.

The SMMT says the loss is equivalent to 215 fewer cars and was driven chiefly by structural changes, reflecting a move from car to van making at one major plant, but with supply chain shortages still afflicting some manufacturers.

Combined battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicle volumes were up 49.9% to 28,329 units, and these represented 41.3% of cars made in January.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Automotive manufacturing can drive long-term growth for the low carbon economy, but the sector needs competitive conditions to attract investment. Recent global developments, however, suggest increasing protectionism which, if not challenged or mitigated, could put the UK at a disadvantage.

“To deliver a wholesale industrial transformation we need a competitive framework and a pitch that promotes advanced vehicle manufacturing internationally. We now look to the forthcoming Budget for the necessary measures that will enable the automotive sector to deliver its undoubted potential.”

Production for the UK rose 5.6% to 12,196 units, while exports were down 1.5%, which the SMMT says is largely due to the suspension of shipments to Russia which accounted for 83.6% of the loss.

In total, 82.2% of cars produced were destined for overseas markets, with 56.6% for the EU, 9.3% for the US, 8.8% for China, 4.4% for Japan, and 3.3% for Australia.

The latest independent outlook anticipates UK car output rising by 9% to 842,200 cars this year, driven by growth in electrified vehicle production. By 2025 car and light van production volumes are predicted to surpass 1m vehicle.